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The Velikovsky Heresies: Worlds in Collision and Ancient Catastrophes Revisited

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    Available in PDF - DJVU Format | The Velikovsky Heresies: Worlds in Collision and Ancient Catastrophes Revisited.pdf | Language: ENGLISH
    Laird Scranton(Author)

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Surrounded by controversy even before its publication in 1950, Immanuel Velikovsky’s Worlds in Collisionintroduced the provocative theory that Venus began as a brilliant comet ejected by Jupiter around 1600 BCE, wreaking chaos on Mars and Earth as it roamed through our solar system prior to settling into its current orbit. Immediately dismissed without any investigation and subject to vicious attacks, Velikovsky’s theory is now poised for reexamination in light of recent astronomical and archaeological findings. Exploring the key points of Velikovsky’s theories, Laird Scranton presents evidence from recent space probe missions to show that Venus still exhibits cometlike properties, such as its atmospheric composition, and could be a young planet. Reviewing the widespread cometlike descriptions of Venus from 1500 BCE to 750 BCE as well as Velikovsky’s observation that no records of Venus exist prior to 1600 BCE, Scranton reveals recently translated ancient texts from China, Korea, and Japan that further uphold Velikovsky’s theories. Examining evidence of major geomagnetic and climate-change events around 1500 BCE and 750 BCE, corresponding with close passes of the comet Venus and its impact with Mars, the author offers scientific explanations for many disputed aspects of Velikovsky’s theories, such as how Venus transformed from a comet into an orbiting planet. By updating this unresolved controversy with new scientific evidence, Scranton helps us to understand how it was that Worlds in Collisionwas the one book found open on Albert Einstein’s desk at the time of his death.

“Scranton reminds us of Velikovsky’s contribution to our ideas about our solar system, and he hints at what else may be confirmed in the future.” (Nexus Magazine, June 2012)

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Book details

  • PDF | 160 pages
  • Laird Scranton(Author)
  • Bear & Company (25 Jan. 2012)
  • English
  • 8
  • Religion & Spirituality

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Review Text

  • By Chris Coughlan on 20 August 2017

    Excellent re-appraisal of Velikovsky from an educated and erudite man. When respectable "scientists" have to make up alternative theories on the hoof, you know you're onto something!

  • By Alan S. Glassman on 12 January 2013

    Laird Scranton has steered down an entirely new path from his previous three books about ancient myth and the African Dogon. In this latest offering he asks us to rethink the 1950 theories presented in Immanuel Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision.As a college student, Scranton was intrigued by Velikovsky's ideas and by the controversy they evoked. It should not be surprising, then, that this present book by Scranton has already elicited critical comments.As of this writing, the reviews for The Velikovsky Heresies have largely panned Scranton's efforts, mostly on the premise that he is not scientifically qualified to speak in favour of digging up the Velikovsky proposals and taking another serious look at them. I totally disagree.Laird Scranton is a computer programmer and teacher. However, for someone not originally and formally trained in astronomy, we must admit that he has certainly done his homework in that subject. With careful research, good overall organisation and clear writing, this book is an easy and interesting read. Scranton delves into both the pros and cons of Velikovsky's proposals showing us that more recent findings about our planetary neighbours tend to reinforce those theories.Velikovsky, himself, was not an astronomer. Russian-born, he became Israel's first practicing psychiatrist and psychotherapist. However, as Scranton reminds us, "His academic background, reputation, political associations, and professional standing were such that the scientific community could not realistically afford to simply ignore his book."Velikovsky had worked with Albert Einstein and Dr. Chaim Weizmann to establish Jerusalem's prestigious Hebrew University.In 1939, to further distance himself from the impending world war, he moved his family to Princeton, New Jersey. It was said that, when Einstein was suddenly found dead in Princeton in 1955, the one book found open on his desk was Velikovsky's Worlds in Collision. In fact, the two had carried on a long-time correspondence discussing the possible importance of electromagnetic effects in our solar system. For years critical of Velikovsky's ideas, after some later astronomical discoveries and shortly before his death, Einstein turned his opinion 180 degrees and encouraged his colleague to pursue his investigations further.Scranton makes a good case that orthodox scientific analysis is not always the best or only method to arrive at physical and historical truths. His programming background makes him uniquely qualified to look at Velikovsky's way of thinking from a new angle. I would call it, for lack of a better term, a more holistic approach---one that is suited to interdisciplinary thinking. I think that is what Scranton gives us, as did Velikovsky himself.Many of us remember Velikovsky's main premise: that ancient legends all over the globe, including biblical accounts, tell the story that a large object collided with and was swallowed by Jupiter; that soon after that a comet-like body was emitted from the Jovian surface and circled the Sun for a long time, approaching both Earth and Mars and causing catastrophic damage to both before it settled into its own orbit in our solar system.Accordingly, this would mean Venus is a relatively young planet, and conditions in and on it should indicate it had a major collision with a planetary-sized object in its past. Scranton shows us that recent findings seem to substantiate this.Some other key factors Scranton cites that also tend to confirm Velikovsky's thesis include the assertions that:-Jupiter's core is comparatively small and hot, which could be the result of its past absorption of another object and the subsequent ejection of a comet that finally settled into orbit as Venus; in fact, newly discovered ancient astronomic records describe the Venus/comet/erratic orbit scenario.-Crustal damage on Mars suggests collision with another planetary-sized object.-The existence of a rotational resonance between Earth and Venus could be accounted for if at one time the two came into close proximity.-Records of Earth's volcanic activity and climate change coincide with dates that could have seen the close approach of Venus and Mars.-Ancient Earth civilisations simultaneously record a calendar change from a 360-day year to a 365-day year followed by significant cooling at the time Velikovsky claims Mars made a close approach resulting in a change in Earth's orbit and tilt.-And, modern probes of Venus document unexpected attributes that could indicate it is quite young and was once, indeed, a comet.With regard to ancient cultures concurring descriptions of Venus, Scranton says, "For me, one very confusing aspect of the Velikovsky controversy is the apparent disinterest of traditional astronomers in pursuing and explaining this body of ancient descriptions, since clearly something of potential astronomic interest must have been occurring."He adds, "...over time, it seems that virtually all of these scientists (including Einstein) eventually found themselves in the extremely awkward position of having to reverse, qualify, recast, reinterpret, or withdraw their original complaint against Velikovsky as, one by one, various seemingly impossible prospects proved themselves to be possible."He concludes, "...­it may be true that the often rather sharp boundaries that have traditionally been drawn between various scientific fields of study actually do a disservice to the processes of discovery, that cross-application of methodologies and perspectives from field to field might ultimately prove helpful. Perhaps the greatest failing to be cited among the many critics of Immanuel Velikovsky would be their knee-jerk rush to publicly brand Velikovsky as a heretic, under circumstances in which all parties might have been better served if they had simply chosen to explore whether---and from what perspectives---Velikovsky's unorthodox views might make sense."Laird Scranton has done us such a service by looking at those unorthodox views from the vantage point of another discipline. And, from that alternate vantage point, I feel he has done a commendable job of analysis and synthesis in reconciling the ancient historical accounts of Velikovsky's theories with scientific findings that have been made since Worlds in Collision was first published back in 1950.- This review first appeared in New Dawn magazine issue #132

  • By SmokeNMirrors on 12 March 2012

    The Velikovsky Heresies is a concise critique of the evidence which has come to light over the 60+ years since the publication of Immanuel Velikovsky's Worlds In Collision, the aim of which is not to prove or disprove Velikovsky's thesis but to examine whether or not his scenario COULD have happened. The analysis is even-handed and open-minded and presents the pros and cons of both sides of the question, and ultimately arrives at the conclusion that those detractors who insist that Velikovsky's theory has been disproven are not being completely honest. The author concludes, based on the following points, that Velikovsky's thesis is still theoretically possible in the second decade of the twenty-first century despite the efforts of detractors (the vast majority of whom have never read a single word Velikovsky actually wrote) both inside and outside the world of academia:1. Because scientists consider the atmosphere of Jupiter to be a pristine sample of the primordial cloud, it now seems quite possible that a planet with the composition of Venus could have been formed from material that originated in Jupiter.2. Recent models that were developed to explain the unexpectedly small size of Jupiter's core suggest that an event may have occurred that would have been capable, according to Carl Sagan's criteria, of ejecting Venus from Jupiter. Such an event would have vaporized the core of Jupiter and left it exceedingly hot, even today -- twice the temperature of the core of Saturn. The preferred computer-modeled scenario for this event correlates well to the Greek myth on which Velikovsky bases his scenario for the "birth" of Venus and presumes that Jupiter effectively "swallowed" a large body just prior to ejecting Venus.3. The Great Red Spot on Jupiter -- the gigantic storm whose physics are not yet entirely understood by atmospheric scientists -- provides one mechanism by which material from the interior of Jupiter could have been transported to Jupiter's surface prior to ejection.4. Ancient astronomic records that have been uncovered and translated since Velikovsky published in 1950 refer to Venus using the same terms and descriptions cited in Worlds in Collision -- terms that were traditionally applied to comets -- and so seemingly uphold the credibility of Velikovsky's sources and the reasonableness of his translations.5. Modern scholars who have reviewed the ancient Venus tables cited by Velikovsky agree that, even allowing for "background noise" such as scribal errors, there would be difficulties trying to correlate their data to modern sightings. Such discrepancies support Velikovsky's notion that Venus could have been out of its present orbit during ancient times.6. Models that were developed to explain crustal damage on Mars allow that a single collision with a planetary-sized object of the sort proposed by Velikovsky could well have created the conditions that are known to exist on Mars. The main objection to this collision having happened in historically recent times is the preconceived belief on the part of astronomers that bodies of sufficient size have not roamed the solar system for millions of years.7. Models that were developed to explain various facts about Venus, such as its lack of water, postulate that a major collision with a planetsized object could also have created the conditions that are known to exist on Venus.8. The apparent rotational resonance that exists between Venus and Earth allows for the possibility that the two planets could have come into close proximity with one another, as Velikovsky claims.9. The eruption of Thera on the island of Santorini, around 1500 to 1600 BCE (the time Velikovsky claims Venus made a close approach to Earth) would have been seen from Egypt and could have produced many of the effects assigned to it by Velikovsky and reported in the biblical book of Exodus.10. Significant changes in the global climate occurred around 750 BCE (the time Velikovsky claims Mars made a close approach to Earth), as evidenced in archeological finds, tree rings, and ice rings, and by known mass migrations. Likewise, there is evidence of major undefined geomagnetic events both at 1500 BCE and 750 BCE that caused great fluctuations in the magnetic field of Earth and that are associated by modern scientists with the same historical transitions claimed by Velikovsky. Because of the irregularities in the time frame of these occurrences, scientists believe they may have been precipitated by an unknown agent.11. Close study of ancient Egyptian and Chinese evidence allows for the possibility that a 360-day year existed in ancient times, as Velikovsky claims. A uniform calendar revision from a 360day ancient year to a 365-day year was inexplicably made by many different, widespread cultures at around 750 BCE (the time Velikovsky claims that a close approach by Mars changed the orbit of Earth.) Likewise, significant cooling of Earth's climate is reported to have happened just following this proposed lengthening of the calendar year.12. Some scientists attribute the rotational resonance of Venus and Earth to tidal forces. These same tidal forces provide one possible mechanism by which the orbit of Venus could theoretically have become circularized. Other researchers claim that variable drag caused by the tail of a comet is capable of circularizing its orbit.13. Based on current observations, both Ptolemy and Copernicus seemingly miscalculated the timing of the risings and settings of Venus, and both apparently misportrayed the moonlike phases of Venus in drawings. These findings of Ptolemy and Copernicus are in disagreement both with each other and with modern sources. Taken together, they support the notion that Venus was out of its present orbit and that its orbit could, theoretically, have been changing as recently as 1500 CE.14. Modern probes to Venus have documented attributes of the planet that could be consistent with a history as a comet. These include the discovery of hydroxyl ions, which are abundant in the atmosphere of comets but exceedingly rare in the atmospheres of planets, the existence of an ionotail, described by some astronomers as the planetary counterpart to a comet's tail, and evidence that the ionotail is driven by the Kelvin-Helmholtz Instability, the same effect that is thought to be responsible for a comet's tail.15. Modern probes to Venus have affirmed several of Velikovsky's predictive claims for Venus and have documented unexpected attributes of Venus that could be consistent with a youthful planet. These include a surface temperature hot enough to melt lead and a high internal temperature, an unexpectedly small number of impact craters, a relatively pristine surface, evidence of active volcanic activity, a lack of continental plates, and confirmed evidence of a largely basalt crust in the absence of confirmed evidence of granite.16. Many climatologists tacitly endorse the apparent youthfulness of Venus each time they cite some aspect of its geology or atmosphere as a reliable guide to what is likely to have been true during the Archean period on Earth.It is striking that not one of Velikovsky's core claims have yet been unequivocally refuted after 60 years, and indeed Velikovsky has been proven absolutely right on most of those points - although of course he has never been given credit and the accusation has always been that he simply made lucky guesses. If this is so then he must rank as the luckiest guesser in academic history and as such should have accused not only of heresy but also of sorcery. And perhaps it was Velikovsky's prescience which so infuriated the academic world - after all, all the scientists in the history of the world thus far have yet to come up with a better mechanism than gravity as the primary force in the universe despite the very obvious shortcomings of this totally unproven theory, such as the fact that moisture in the air, being heavier than air, should fall to earth but doesn't, gases found in the upper reaches of the atmosphere which are heavier than air should sink below the air but don't, the moon should fall to earth but so far hasn't, and the planets into the sun. Many of the apparently unanswerable questions about our universe suddenly become easily explainable with the assumption that Velikovsky was right, and again perhaps this is what drove the academic establishment into such paroxysms of rage: the necessity to investigate the unknown is the only reason for a scientist's existence.

  • By Guest on 12 July 2013

    Scranton takes Velikovsky's principal statements on his view of Earth's geological and cosmological history, including his view that Venus is a captured comet, whose existence was not recorded by Sumerian astronomers who were well aware of all the other planets, and looks at the current 'state of the art' regarding the scientific view. He demonstrates how in many cases Velikovsky, who derived knowledge from ancient writings to formulate new paradigms, was frequently completely correct with his conjectures.The curious thing about V is that I came a cross a set of his books many years ago and did not buy them because I thought that his views were junk. I know better now. He was one of the world's most gifted polymaths.

  • By Mr. Neil M C Sinclair on 4 August 2012

    Scranton's use of recent astrophysical and scientific analysis brings plausible validation to Velikovsky's radical idea that Venus is a recent planetary member of the Solar System, a theory that brought the latter much ridicule and condemnation during his lifetime for claiming it's birth during historical times. But hey at least he wasn't burned at the stake for defying the sacrosanct theory of Uniformitarianism current in his day. Scranton's effort is an excellent reanalysis of Velikovsky's radical theory much in the same vein as his unearthing of knowledge of quantum physics among enigmatic Dogon...

  • By EOtti on 24 July 2013

    Was very interessted in reading this book. Own some of Velikovsky's works and read "Worlds in Collision" once. A good book.

  • By Label von Shmo on 25 November 2012

    I have always held Velikovsky in high esteem, having thought he was way ahead of his time. Pleasing to see his views vindicated


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